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SHALLOTTE—On a night when West Brunswick High School’s wrestling team honored its seniors, the outcome of the match rested squarely on the shoulders of a sophomore.
Joey Moreno’s 5-4 decision in the final bout clinched the Trojans’ 38-30 victory against Mideastern 3A/4A Conference rival White Oak in last week’s regular-season finale.
With the win, West Brunswick finished 4-2 in the conference and improved to 15-5 overall. The 15 wins are the most in six years and, the Trojans posted the third best winning percentage in the program’s 18-year history
“We’re excited. It’s big for this program,” coach Jimmy Caraway said following last Tuesday’s showdown in the WBHS gymnasium.
“To only lose two matches in the conference is big for this program, it’s big for the team, it’s big for me. I’m so happy right now.”
Caraway and his wrestlers were hopeful the victory would be enough to get them into the state dual team playoffs for the first time 2003.
“It means a lot,” Moreno said. “Now we have a shot to make it to the state playoffs, which is one of our main goals as a team.”
Floyd, one of five seniors recognized before the match, said he would like to experience the playoffs. “I’ve been wanting to do that all four years. We’ve never gotten to go state as a team.”
White Oak’s only lead came early in the match when Eric Norvell’s pin in the 215-pound weight class put the Vikings up 6-3.
Floyd’s forfeit win at heavyweight put the Trojans on top for good. Dylan Bernier’s technical fall at 103 pounds, Josh Sergent’s forfeit win at 119 and Brian Dillman’s pin at 125 pounds gave West Brunswick a 26-12 advantage.
Mitch Stephens, a freshman in his first varsity match, got another pin at 135 pounds, and Tyquan Ash won a 6-2 decision in the 140-pound class to push the lead to 35-18.
White Oak won the next three weight classes by major decision, technical fall and decision to cut the Trojans’ lead to 35-30 with one bout remaining.
West Brunswick’s 171-pounder, Moreno, stepped on the mat knowing all he had to do to clinch the team win was avoid a technical fall or pin.
His match against Christian Rosso was 2-2 after two periods. Moreno trailed 4-3 before recording a takedown in the final seconds for a 5-4 decision.
“I was going for the win,” Moreno said. “I was down and I looked at the clock and had 15 seconds left. It was nice. It gave me more confidence in myself, and once I got that takedown I knew we had won.”
West Brunswick’s first home match since Dec. 12 was the final regular-season home match for seniors Sergent, Dillman, Floyd, Ronald Royster and Tal Mooney.
Team captains Sergent, Dillman and Floyd entered the match with 77 victories on the season and 247 career wins. They departed with an even 250 wins, even though Sergent and Floyd had to settle for forfeits.
“They forfeited to our seniors except for Brian Dillman,” Caraway said. “That was kind of low-rent but whatever. It is what it is. They’ll take the wins. Those guys know their role.”
Caraway said West Brunswick’s wrestlers from 145 to 171 pounds did a good job avoiding pins. He said Aldo DeNardi, Brian Murdaugh, Deven Ruane and Moreno fought hard.
“I told those guys we couldn’t afford to give up any pins there and they didn’t. That was big,” Caraway said.
Last week’s match was West Brunswick’s first in 10 days. The Trojans hadn’t competed since a Jan. 19 tournament at Cape Fear High School, where they placed a disappointing eighth out of 12 teams.
“We went back to basics. We went back to conditioning. I thought our conditioning was a lot better tonight,” Caraway said.
“We worked on a lot, and some of things we worked on we didn’t do tonight that we could have done. But in those last four matches they did what we’ve been working on.”
West Brunswick 38
White Oak 30
103: Bernier (WB) tech. fall Hedgecort, 16-0; 112: Goldsmith (WO) pin T. Ruane, 3:22; 119: Sergent (WB) won by forfeit; 125: Dillman (WB) pin Rose, 1:23; 130: Burris (WO) pin Boudreau, 1:49; 135: Stephens (WB) pin Rudder, 1:25; 140: Ash (WB) dec. Boone, 6-2; 145: Collison (WO) maj. dec. DeNardi, 12-3; 152: Zaleski (WO) tech. fall Murdaugh, 17-2; 160: Marva (WO) dec. D. Ruane, 3-1; 171: Moreno (WB) dec. Rosso, 5-4; 189: Conness (WB) dec. Berrio, 8-1; 215: Norvell (WO) pin Bowman, 3:48; 285: Floyd (WB) won by forfeit.
Doug Rutter is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org